In the Year of Natural Sciences

In college, I took an astronomy course. The instructor spoke too fast and had a habit of erasing a formula when he was halfway through the equation, saying, “That’s not right. Is anyone else confused?” No one mentioned stars or nebulas. No one asked when we would build model rockets and blast our eyes off the launch pad in arced trajectories we could calculate.
The stars seemed an inaccurate science. Determined to know something definite about disaster, I gave up on charting constellations. I signed up for geology where I learned to memorize epochs and eras like the birthdays of loved ones and hoped to become a dinosaur. I waited for my skin to become scales, to adopt a limp-wristed stance, for my digits to decrease in number, and my head to bob along to a nimble gait. My wrists remained rigid. Still human, I cannot explain my nightmares about comets, the tendency to catastrophize, how I wake up at night asking, “And what kind of telescope do you want to be remembered as?” Refracting, reflecting, radio, x-ray.

Gina Keicher is an MFA candidate at Syracuse University, where she is a Creative Writing Fellow as well as the Lou Reed/Delmore Schwartz Scholar, and has won the Joyce Carol Oates Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in h_ngm_n, Night Train, Poets and Artists, and are forthcoming from Harpur Palate, Ninth Letter, and Stone Canoe.